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- Dubai 04:54 06:07 12:11 15:33 18:09 19:23
As the UAE looks to the post-coronavirus future with businesses poised to reopen, leading medical and mental health experts joined Dubai Science Park’s Advance Health webinar to explore strategies to reduce anxiety and strengthen emotional resilience.
The four speakers on Dubai Science Park’s ‘Advance Health: The Importance of Mental Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ webinar said mental health will become more important once the virus is defeated and life returns to a new normal.
Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Managing Director of Dubai Science Park, moderated the digital event. He was joined by Dr Adil Sajwani, a family physician and member of the UAE’s National Awareness Team for COVID-19, Dr Muhummad Tahir, a founding member of the Emirates Society for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Sarah Rasmi, Managing Director of Thrive Wellbeing Centre, and Maher Elhassan, Vice President and General Manager at BD MENA & Saudi Arabia.
Opening the session, Marwan Abdulaziz said: "Mental health has become a major focus point around the world following the heightened degree of anxiety and stress facing many of us. Sharing knowledge and expertise on effective coping mechanisms to strike a work-life balance that promotes our physical and emotional wellbeing will ensure we have the tools to manage the psychological impact of COVID-19 today and in the post-coronavirus world.
He added: "Creating a balanced and mindful life will also contribute to the UAE’s National Wellbeing Strategy 2031 to make our nation a world leader in quality of life, which makes today’s topic all the more important."
Dr Adil Sajwani has witnessed first-hand the virus’ emotional toll on frontline medical workers and warned the psychological impact on them cannot be underestimated. "One day this virus will be a memory but one of the lessons we must learn is the importance of mental health because these workers will face a huge challenge post-COVID-19. The government will cope with this effectively as good mental health is a key pillar of the UAE’s vision to create a world-class healthcare industry."
As well as looking forward, the webinar also examined strategies to cope with stress and anxiety during the current lockdown. Licensed psychologist Sarah Rasmi said people may be putting too much pressure on themselves to pursue fitness and personal development goals.
"Holding yourself to such high standards can be unhealthy, leading to feelings of stress and depression if you fail to meet these targets," she said. "Maintaining a healthy connection with yourself is important and I would advise everybody takes at least a few minutes each day to reconnect with themselves because that gives you the energy to navigate these challenging times."
To protect the emotional wellbeing of children now and when they return to school, Dr Muhummad Tahir, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, advised parents to give their children some – but not too much – information about the pandemic.
"As anxiety is created by uncertainty, unpredictability and a lack of control, it is important to address the questions your children have about the situation rather than avoid them to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety," he explained.
Maher Elhassan called on companies to show empathy to their staff during the lockdown.
"Businesses need to connect with their employees as much as possible. They need to show compassion because this is a difficult moment and we shouldn’t assume employees have time for everything just because they are working from home; we need to recognise their hard work and avoid falling into the trap of overloading them," he said.
Marwan Abdulaziz concluded the second digital Advance Health session by advising everyone to promote positivity, stay safe and continue following recommended government advice as restrictions begin to be eased.
Dubai Science Park hosts the Advance Health series to promote information sharing and encourage networking opportunities in the UAE. Organised in partnership with Synapse Medical Services and Connect Communications, Advance Health has recently adopted a digital-only format following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
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